Today, I’ll walk you through choosing not just another firearm but the best bolt action rifle you will need especially if you plan to take down such animals like Elks on your next hunting expedition.
Any big game hunter knows his weapon of choice for such missions – bolt-action rifles. But, these long barrel guns have been around for centuries and were initially built as military weapons before evolving into more than just a weapon for elite snipers during the cold wars of the 20th century.
Bolt-action rifles are some of the most accurate rifles you would find on the market and they work very well with different scopes. Interestingly, they are not just dependably accurate but also affordable, so there’s a piece for everyone.
With the improved modern-day design, bolt-action rifles now effectively extend their range of fire, thanks to centerfire cartridges they now use.
Today, I’ll be extensively talking about these bolt-action rifles which are getting popular by the day. Although these types of long barrel firearms are some of the oldest available, they have become to see wider acceptance thanks to modern development.
If you’re on the market for a bolt-action rifle but you are not sure of what to look for or need help sifting through the hundreds of options of long-barrel guns, this post is for you.
I will make this post as informative and straight to the point as possible, breaking down these rifle types and helping you understand how best to find a bolt-action gun that delivers the results you expect. Read this review and buying guide to make an informed choice today.
- Best Bolt Action Rifles 022
- 1. RUGER® AMERICAN RIFLE HUNTER
- 2. Tikka’s T3x Compact Tactical Rifle (CTR)
- 3. RUGER – AMERICAN RANCH RIFLE
- 4. HOWA – FULL DIP KRYPTEX .308 20′ BARREL WITH SCOPE
- 5. MOSSBERG – PATRIOT 450 BUSHMASTER
- 6. RUGER – AMERICAN PREDATOR 308 WIN
- 7. RUGER – AMERICAN RANCH 450 BUSHMASTER
- 8. RUGER – AMERICAN RIFLE RANCH 450 BUSHMASTER WITH KONUS SCOPE
- 9. TIKKA – T1X 17 HMR 20″ BL/SYN
- 10. DANIEL DEFENSE – DELTA 5
- 11. AMERICAN RANCH 350 LEGEND
- 12. SAVAGE ARMS – SAVAGE 110 WOLVERINE
- 13. TIKKA – T3X COMPACT TACTICAL RIFLE (CTR) 6.5 Creedmoor
- Buyer Guide…
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- My Top Pick
Best Bolt Action Rifles 022
1. RUGER® AMERICAN RIFLE HUNTER
Ruger has listened to its fans and produced the New Ruger American Rifle Hunter. This firearm is purpose-built to provide a customizable yet enhanced rifle platform at a pocket-friendly price. And without removing worthy features that compromise quality.
The Ruger American Rifle Hunter comes with a cold hammer-forged, heavy-contour barrel for enhanced accuracy and durability. The Magpul-produced stock can be custom-fitted to your body, thanks to its improved ergonomics.
The well-designed and reliable rifle is also outfitted with trademarked Hybrid Muzzle Brake which is innovatively designed to direct noise and muzzle blast to your sides. This reduces felt recoil while allowing you to stay on-target easily.
- Heavy-contour barrel
- Ships with one 5-round mag
- Outfitted with patented Hybrid Muzzle Brake that helps in reducing felt recoil
- Enhanced Magpul-produced Hunter stock
- Heavy-contour barrel is cold hammer-forged for accuracy and durability
- Adjustable marksman trigger with 3 or 5-pound pull
- Every component is wholly sourced and assembled in the United States
- Does not include sights
2. Tikka’s T3x Compact Tactical Rifle (CTR)
Tikka T3X is a versatile hunting rifle that comes with a free-floating, semi-heavy contour barrel and threaded muzzle.
The action of this firearm is exceptionally rigid as well, which contributes to its accuracy. It shouldn’t be surprising since Tikka is a known subsidiary of Beretta, the popular maker of outstanding firearms.
The 20-inch barrel is super-fine for typical hunting distances, though not too good for extreme long-range shooting.
It comes outfitted with an adjustable single-stage trigger whose pull weight you can easily customize from 2 to 4 pounds. The detachable magazine has 10 rounds, though other models and caliber come with 3, 5, or 7-round capacities.
- Free floated barrel
- Non-reflective stainless finish or matte black
- Exceptionally rigid action
- Free floated barrel
- Guaranteed 3-shot sub MOA accuracy out of the box
- 10-round, steel detachable box magazine
- Light enough for excellent precision
- 20-inch barrel not ideal for extreme long-range shooting
3. RUGER – AMERICAN RANCH RIFLE
The Ruger American Ranch Rifle is a rugged and compact, firearm that is chambered in the aggressive 350 Legend cartridge from Winchester. It is constructed on the same action as the popular Ruger American. Its cold, hammer-forged barrel will provide you with an incredible level of accuracy.
You will also love the Marksman Adjustable Trigger that comes with the Ruger American Ranch Rifle which you can set anywhere from 3-5 pounds in pull weight. It comes with a rotary magazine that continually feeds the brand-new straight-walled cartridge.
- Ergonomics: The rifle stock switches things up a bit from what you are used to
- Polymer stock material
- Accuracy, thanks to its adjustable trigger, ergonomics, and free float barrel
- Safe rifle since you don’t have to pull its trigger to remove the bolt
- Impressive power bedding
- Magazines are pretty small and made for plinking
4. HOWA – FULL DIP KRYPTEX .308 20′ BARREL WITH SCOPE
The Howa 1500 Full-Dip Kryptex rifle is the firearm you take with you when going after predators and varmints. It complements your entire camo system as you hunt, thereby enabling you to stay ready for wily prey and to remain well hidden.
This rifle is ably constructed on a Hogue stock that features a one-piece bolt that locks securely into the receiver using 2 rock-solid locking lugs and a pillar-bedded action. And the entire firearm is dipped right into Kryptek Highlander camo to make it ready for hunting.
- Chambered in .308 Winchester
- Complete camo system
- Perfect for hunting predators and varmints
- Comes fully equipped with a factory bore-sighted rifle scope
- Covered in camo for hunting grounds
5. MOSSBERG – PATRIOT 450 BUSHMASTER
Mossberg may have come just a little late to the 450 Bushmaster game, but it has succeeded in getting in on the action with the Patriot Bushmaster in its stable.
This firearm features a button-rifled barrel accurately mated to Mossberg’s proven free-floated and action for maximum accuracy. The recessed crown on the barrel improved precision performance while its entire length is precisely optimized for a complete powder burn.
The Patriot Bushmaster looks incredibly ergonomic and attractive, thanks to its ergonomic bolt handle that permits fast or quick cycling as well as its spiral-fluted bolt.
- Threaded muzzle
- Exceptional Lighting Bolt-Action trigger
- Best-looking budget hunting rifle
- Unique lightning-bolt action trigger
- Adjustable trigger – between 2-7 pounds – thereby breaking evenly and crisply
- Requires low maintenance
- No pillar bedding, just plastic
- Unnecessary spiral bolt and barrel fluting cuts
- No front sight
6. RUGER – AMERICAN PREDATOR 308 WIN
Ruger is getting incredibly popular for creating high-quality firearms, and the American Predator 308 Winchester is one of them. This rifle comes at 22 inches which allows for maneuverability.
The length also remarkably maintains just enough velocity to take full advantage of the .308 cartridge. The barrel also comes barrel-threaded to accept muzzle attachments such as suppressors and brakes.
The American Predator comes minus ammo and scope and has an ergonomically designed tag-mounted safety for maximum protection and function. Left-handed shooters are going to have a field day with this exceptional rifle.
- User-adjustable trigger
- 70-degree bolt throw for super-quick cycling
- Thread-ready for muzzle attachments
- MOA accuracy out of the box
- An excellent choice for left-handed shooters
- Plastic stock is said to be flimsy or cheap
7. RUGER – AMERICAN RANCH 450 BUSHMASTER
The Ruger American Ranch 450 Bushmaster is an incredibly light firearm and comes with a modern-looking synthetic stock. It is exceptionally accurate when shooting nearly all types of ammunition.
It features a patent-pending ‘Power Bedding System’ that free-floats the barrel of this firearm. This Power Bedding System is a much newer replacement to the conventional lug. And this increases the accuracy of this heavy-hitting gun. The gun is also easy to maneuver.
- Power bedding system
- Free float barrel
- Enhanced accuracy, thanks to its free float barrel and adjustable trigger
- Power bedding system that increases the reliability of the product
- Safe to use since you do not have to pull the trigger in order to remove the bolt
- Small magazine capacity designed for plinking
- Too powerful recoil
8. RUGER – AMERICAN RIFLE RANCH 450 BUSHMASTER WITH KONUS SCOPE
The Ruger American Ranch Rifle is chambered in 450 Bushmaster and is equipped with a Konus 3×9 rifle scope. The performance of this firearm is comparable to the highly venerable .45-70 Government gun.
The Ruger American Ranch Rifle’s 450 Bushmaster’s thumper round gives a highly powerful big-bore solution for you as a lover of close-range hunting. The bolt action rifle comes in Go Wild Camo that hides you well when hunting in the bush.
- Polymer stock
- Konus 3×9 rifle scope
- Lightweight firearm
- Comes in Go Wild Camo green than enhances your protection when hunting in the wild
- Powerful firearm, a heavy-hitter (450 Bushmaster)
- It comes with a magazine included 1×3-round
- None detected
9. TIKKA – T1X 17 HMR 20″ BL/SYN
The T1X 17 HMR firearm is a dependable and highly enjoyable rimfire rifle. It is equipped with several elements including a smooth bolt throw that assures you of consistent operation.
The muzzle of this firearm comes threaded, thereby enabling you to pair up suppressors as well as other muzzle devices.
This firearm weighs only 5.3 lbs and is well-loved for its trouble-free loading and ease of use.
- A threaded muzzle for attachments
- Hops with a ten-round detachable magazine
- Trouble-free loading
- Threaded muzzle that allows you to use suppressors and other muzzle enhancements
- Excellent ‘out-of-the-box’ accuracy
- Balanced, easy takedown, and handy
- Best used for competitive shooting and hunting
- None detected
10. DANIEL DEFENSE – DELTA 5
The Daniel Defense DELTA 5 firearm comes with out-of-the-box features that would typically have required professional gun-smithing. If you love long-range shooting, the DELTA 5 is equipped to provide that experience right from the day you buy it.
The barrel is interchangeable with stainless steel cold-hammer-forged to contour. It comes with a thread protector and a three-lug bolt with a 60-degree throw.
This means that no custom wait time is required in any way.
- User-changeable barrels/calibers
- Custom stock
- Threaded barrel for muzzle attachments
- Adjustable comb
- Detachable box magazine
- M-Lok attachment points make a nice touch
- Incredibly accurate
- Standard rifle stock design as against a pistol grip
- Looks somewhat imbalanced
- The bolt sticks at full extension
11. AMERICAN RANCH 350 LEGEND
The hard-hitting and compact Ruger American Ranch Rifle offers you a rugged firearm that is chambered with the 350 Legend cartridges from Winchester.
Each rifle from Ruger is practically built on the popular company’s Ruger American design. It comes with dual-cocking cams and a full-diameter bolt body.
The barrel of this rifle is cold hammer-forged and provides you with a super-incredible level of accuracy. And what sets this firearm apart from others its user-friendliness as well as affordability.
- Patented Marksman Adjustable Trigger
- Rotary magazine
- Ships with rotary magazines that feed new, straight-walled cartridges reliably
- Extremely accurate
- Best for target practice and hunting
- A little loud when shooting
- Bolt is somewhat rough with sharp edges
12. SAVAGE ARMS – SAVAGE 110 WOLVERINE
No one likes to get caught out in the woods without a powerful firearm. The Savage 110 Wolverine rifle is the companion you need when you are out on a hunt. The new features that come with this firearm can help you to take the perfect shot as it is built to ensure fast and precision shooting.
The rifle comes with Savage Arms’ innovative AccuFit stock system that allows you to take snap-shots at a game that could be gone in seconds. The stock ships with pacers and comb inserts that allow you to build the perfect fit.
- AccuFit stock system
- Comb inserts and stock pacers
- Perfect for taking snapshots at fast game
- A well-fit firearm that fits exactly where you want it to be on your body
- Safety: Two-position selector
- Incredibly accurate
- Non-attractive aesthetics
13. TIKKA – T3X COMPACT TACTICAL RIFLE (CTR) 6.5 Creedmoor
If you are searching for a subsidiary of Beretta hunting rifle, the Tikka T3x Compact rifle can be your best choice. This is an extremely powerful bolt action rifle that will enhance your hunting experience, any time any day.
The biggest strength that this gun brings to the table is its versatility. Its unique free-floated barrel and the action it produces make this firearm a must-have for any serious shooter. The target is, of course, 100 percent accurate, so you need not bother about accuracy.
- Adjustable single-stage trigger
- Chambered hunting calibers
- A crisp and excellent trigger that is firm enough for a hunt
- A well-constructed firearm with smooth action
- Highly convenient gun barrel with free-floated feature
- Light and compact
- 3-shot sub MOA guarantees high-class accuracy
- Interchangeable pistol grip
- Unsuitable for long-range shooting
Like everything else, to get the best off your bolt action rifle, you must purchase one that is reliable and durable – meets your needs and gets the job done without any ado. Although that sounded kinda easy, it isn’t a walk in the park.
It is paramount to make a few pieces of research and obtain relevant information either about a particular bolt action rifle or the product generally to increase your chances of laying hands on the one that you won’t regret purchasing.
Here – it has been simplified in this buyer’s guide. Here are the things you should pay attention to when buying a bolt-action rifle.
A very quick and easy question that must be answered before picking a particular bolt action rifle is what do I want to use it for?
Are you buying for hunting or target shooting? Or you’re purchasing the bolt action rifle to defend yourself and your family?
Surely, you could use a flat screwdriver to act as a chisel when working with a pinch, but when you need a chisel, you’ve gotta get one.
After deciding the use the rifle is going to perform, identification of the several features and calibers that are best built for the purpose should be the next step.
A .22 LR bolt action rifle performs exceptionally well for varmint and small game hunting, or coyotes culling. Plus it is moderately priced and lets you have all the fun.
However, for users who engage in long-range shooting, the 6.5mm Creedmoor (Chassis based) or a badass long-range magnum like the .338 Lapua or .300 Win Mag with a customizable optics rail would do the magic.
If you intend to go for bigger games like elks, bears, buck, or any other full-bodied game, you need the right bolt action rifle with a matching caliber for that particular game. If you’re going to hunt in the east for example where there are beanfields, you don’t really need a .30-06 caliber.
Most western hunters that go after elks, big bucks or bears, use at least a .30-30 caliber or multiple legged cartridges like the .300 Blackout. This is so because when hunting these animals, you may need to stay at least 400 yards away for an appropriate shot opportunity.
Also, if you do bench rest shooting, a classic bolt action rifle does the job efficiently – so you enjoy the hunting and bench rest functionalities.
Consider the Bolt Size
Size matters. Yes, especially when picking a bolt for your bolt action rifle. If you can find a seller that has no issues allowing you to personalize your rifle build, then that’s most excellent.
The larger your rifle’s bolt, the easier it will be to make quick follow-up shots because the bolt throws would be much smoother. If a bolt action rifle has a small bolt, the rifle can only make short bolt throws.
While the differences might not be seen as a disadvantage, however, it boils down to personal choice and must be considered when buying a bolt action rifle.
The Make-up Material of the Rifle Must Be Of High Quality
This isn’t debatable – it is a non-negotiable. What can a rifle made with low-quality materials do for you? You might be putting your life at risk!
Notwithstanding, there are low-end rifles in the market especially for beginners who want to enjoy the fun but on a budget.
However, if purchasing an excellent rifle is your aim, you must seek out the ones built with carbon steel, stainless steel, some special types of polymers, and other premium materials.
The take here is that rifles made with such high-end materials have a higher kill accuracy and longer lifespan.
Another reason for prioritizing high-end material rifles is that they are hardly affected by severe or inclement weather conditions and won’t corrode easily. Their efficiency is also hardly affected by harsh weather conditions.
Also, when using a rifle made with regular steel, there is a considerable difference in long-range accuracy between that and when the gun is made of carbon steel.
So, what’s it gonna be?
What is the Rifle’s Action Type?
This is one of the most important considerations when you’re about to purchase a bolt action rifle – the action type.
There are two major action types – Control Feed and Push Feed.
A push feed action rifle gives a much easier and faster operation. Imagine being able to feed cartridges into your gun’s chamber much quickly without the need to hold the cartridge in place with a bolt – that’s the new push feed action rifle operation right there.
For the best results with a push feed bolt action rifle, it should be made with premium materials because anything less may result in a poorly matched case against the magazine rails.
On the other hand, the control feed is what its name implies – controlled.
It is built with an extractor and an ejector. The extractor holds the cartridge on its rim as tightly as possible while moving it into the chamber. The ejector then removes the case (out of action) and that is after it must have been pulled clear by the extractor.
Each action type works depending on what it is that you want. However, you must consider this option before you finally splash the cash.
Compatibility with Optics
It is recommendable to double-check if your intended bolt action rifle is compatible with hunting optics. Some great bolt action rifles are equipped with built-in scopes, however, most people prefer customizable rails where they can mount any rifle of their choice.
To get a better hunting experience, you need to invest in quality scopes – and especially on rifles with customizable scope rails.
If you would use optics on your rifle, to get the best results, you may have to spend as much as you spent in acquiring the gun, if not more because the glass actually matters more.
When you get an excellent bolt action rifle, make sure you shop for a good mountable glass for it. you can easily identify what kind of glass you need and then go on the select an affordable category.
It is better to have an excellent quality scope on a cheap rifle than to have a budget scope mounted on a high-quality bolt action rifle.
The price of the bolt action rifle would determine if you can afford it or not. There are budget rifles in the market but those who can afford it go for the premium products because they tend to have a better performance than their counterparts.
A stainless steel or carbon steel rifle wouldn’t be sold at the same price as one made from ordinary steel. This is because the former has more advantages like more accuracy and being able to withstand harsh weather conditions.
However, depending on the use, there are budget rifles that can get the job done. If you just want to hunt for fun, you may make do with a budget rifle but if you want to enjoy an extensive
This is about the most important consideration when selecting a bolt action rifle. First off, you need to identify your favorite cartridges – ask yourself what cartridges do I enjoy using most.?
The type of chamber of the bolt action rifle plays an important role in determining the type of hunting that will be most enjoyable.
Take, for example, to enjoy long-range target shooting, you may want to consider buying a 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge while if you want to enjoy target practicing or general hunting, you might want to invest in .223 Remington cartridges.
One good thing is that most common cartridges can match the most common bolt action rifles provided you purchase them from a trustworthy dealer. They can be bought from a brick and mortar shop or locate a vendor online.
There are many bolt action rifles today in the gun market and if you have learned the above tips, picking one shouldn’t be a problem.
There was a time where people walked into rifle shops and go “let me have that rifle and a box of any useable ammo”.
These days’ people buy guns with confidence, after reading several reviews, watching YouTube videos, accessorizing, reading through spec sheets, and even have the options of making online orders.
As mentioned earlier, do not splash that cash unless you know the rifle you are buying and how they benefit you.
Some have better accuracy due to trigger improvements and glass actions. Some composite, hand-laminated rifles are more pricy than the injection-molded products.
In the same vein, the high-end walnut stocks are really good looking and tend to cause uproar not just by the looks but the price tag.
In the bolt action rifle world, there is something for everyone and every budget. You just have to sacrifice some time to make inquiries and do research so you can find exactly what meets your needs both in efficiency, reliability, and budget.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can Bolt Action Rifles Jam?
If you are familiar with bolt action rifles, you would know that they give less trouble compared to many rifles out there. But, regardless of this, they may jam and develop faults usually stemming from ammo.
The usual jam phenomenon occurs when you will find it hard to pull the bolt back. Most people have found that this is usually a problem associated with ammo, changing your ammo will most likely resolve this.
Which is the best Bolt-Action Rifle?
There are a lot of bolt-action rifles with many perfect for a particular activity. Be sure to read through the section at the beginning of this article where I talked about some of the favored bolt-action rifles.
Which is More Accurate Between The Lever Action Rifle and The Bolt Action Rifle?
The first thing you should know is that both rifles can be used interchangeably for hunting large prey, but when it comes to accuracy, the bolt action rifle will stand over the lever-action rifle because it has a rugged fabrication that ensures you get topnotch accuracy when hunting.
The lever-action rifle, on the other hand, plays with several components from stocks, to tubular magazines that cause barrel harmonics to vary between shots and indirectly reduces accuracy.
But on the upside, they tend to be faster than the bolt-action rifles (but these bolt action rifles are a lot stronger and therefore accepts the use of powerful ammo).
The bolt-action rifle is the perfect hunting companion of hunters looking for accuracy, as its robust and sturdy design-build made it great for shooting prey at long distances (say 500 yards and above) without missing the mark.
Why Do People Still Use Bolt Action Rifles?
There have been a lot of coming and going in the firearm world. From autos to turn bolts and even levers. But remarkably, the classic bolt action rifle still exists and is in fact, the perfect starting point to learn the operation of rifles with high-powers.
Asides that, the bolt-action rifles are remarkably accurate for medium to long-range shots, and they can take on harsh weather conditions.
Is Dry-firing a Bolt-Action Safe?
It is perfectly safe to dry-fire the majority of the center-fire bolt-action rifles available. But keep in mind that doing so causes wear and tear to several moving parts of the firearm (though it’s not exactly harmful to the firearm).
Keep in mind that while you may not damage your firearm by dry-firing, the use of “puffer” cartridges (snap-caps) is recommended, as they’ll prevent having the firing pin dropped on a chamber that’s empty.
My Top Pick
The Tikka’s T3x Compact Tactical Rifle (CTR) steals the show for me as it has proven to be a dependable ally for big game hunting. The only problem I do have with the Tikka is it has a relatively short barrel length which won’t fit well if you plan to shoot very long distances.
But, this rigid action rifle is sure to blow your mind with its stellar accuracy and lightweight build. This tactical rifle will bring down just about any big game with one shot at the perfect distance.
If you’re just getting into using a bolt action rifle for hunting, I would recommend you check this out and see if it’s something you would like.
Travis Mike is a firearm enthusiast and author passionate about all things guns. With 10 years of experience in the industry, Travis Mike has gained a wealth of knowledge on the subject. He is skilled in gunsmithing and tactical training. In addition to professional experience, Travis Mike is an avid hunter and shooter, regularly participating in local shooting ranges and hunting trips.